Girls On Film/Girl Panic

Also personifying the 80’s, Duran Duran. They were the picture of sleek, stylish superficiality. They weren’t the exact apotheosis of mindless prettiness – that would have been the boys of  Wham!. Eventually, the grunge revolution would vilify the glossiness of bands like Duran Duran and Wham!. It would come to seem that bands who put so much thought into their dressing and blow drying were just ciphers with nothing real to say and no message to offer. But not delving too deeply into emotional terrain or thinking very hard about a message isn’t a crime. It’s still held that highly produced, highly commercial pop artists are less important than serious minded emo/poetic types, and in many cases that’s a point I agree with. But credit should be given to the value of an extremely effective pop sensibility like Duran Duran. They were a pop band through and through, and at that they excelled and their hits remain indelibly, durably appealing long after their fluffy hairstyles entered fashion extinction. Duran Duran were probably the best major pop band of the 80’s; in their heyday the were leaders in misguided fashion, teenybop idols, tabloid fixtures and, of course, chart-toppers. So fashion were they, that they not only earned a reputation for their cutting-edge videos, which they filled with comely models in various states of undress, but went so meta as to write songs about videos and the models in them. You might think it’s dumb, but I think a band known for their videos writing songs about videos to engender more videos is actually a pretty neat joke. I’m also pretty sure Girls On Film isn’t a parody and contains no signs of irony or self-awareness. They just honestly think filming girls for videos is the neatest thing. And they’re still up to it. Though their relevance in the wider world faded somewhat after grunge rendered hairspray and man-rouge obsolete, they never stopped making their videos and casting them with every supermodel they could find. In fact Duran Duran sowed the seeds for the supermodel phenomenon, being one of the first bands to cast models in their videos, combining fashion and pop music into a single glamorous fantasy. In 1997 their kinky video for Electric Barbarella, starring Myka Dunkle, Sophie Dahl, Devon Aoki and others, looked like an anachronism. Today the pendulum has swung back in favor of shiny, glamorous pop. Duran Duran’s most recent video, Girl Panic is an orgy of self-reference, starring Naomi Campbell as Simon Le Bon, alongside Cindy Crawford, Eva Herzigova, and Helena Christensen. They don’s sound a day out of Rio, and they sound like the next big thing.

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